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Innovation Under the Tradable Sulfur Dioxide Emission Permits Program in the U.S. Electricity Sector

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  • Burtraw, Dallas

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

The 1990 U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) instituted a national program in tradable sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission permits, referred to as "emission allowances," in the U.S. electricity sector. This paper provides a survey and assessment of the SO2 allowance trading program with a focus on the role of innovation. Over the last decade the cost of compliance has fallen dramatically compared with most expectations, and today the total cost of the program is 40– 140% lower than projections (depending on the timing of those projections and the counter-factual baseline considered). Marginal costs of reductions are less than one-half the cost considered in most analyses at the time the program was introduced. Innovation accounts for a large portion of these cost savings, but not as typically formulated in economic models of research and development (R&D) efforts to obtain patent discoveries. Innovation under the SO2 allowance trading program involves organizational innovation at the firm, market and regulatory level and process innovation by electricity generators and upstream fuel suppliers. An important portion of the cost reductions that are evident was already in the works prior to and independent of the program. Nonetheless, the allowance trading program deserves significant credit for providing the incentive and flexibility to accelerate and to fully realize exogenous technical changes that were occurring in the industry. This marks a significant departure from conventional approaches to environmental regulation, which would not be expected to capture these savings. The ongoing transition to restructuring of electricity markets and expanding competition in electricity generation complements the design of the SO2 allowance trading program by providing firms with full incentives to reduce costs of pollution control.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-00-38.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2000
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-00-38

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  1. Stavins, Robert & Jaffe, Adam & Newell, Richard, 1998. "The Induced Innovation Hypothesis and Energy-Saving Technological Change," Discussion Papers dp-98-12-rev, Resources For the Future.
  2. Fischer, Carolyn & Parry, Ian W. H. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Instrument choice for environmental protection when technological innovation is endogenous," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 523-545, May.
  3. Adam B. Jaffe & Karen Palmer, 1996. "Environmental Regulation and Innovation: A Panel Data Study," NBER Working Papers 5545, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Spulber, Daniel F., 1985. "Effluent regulation and long-run optimality," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 103-116, June.
  5. Bohi, Douglas R. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1992. "Utility investment behavior and the emission trading market," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 129-153, April.
  6. Burtraw, Dallas & Krupnick, Alan & Austin, David & Farrell, Deirdre & Mansur, Erin, 1997. "The Costs and Benefits of Reducing Acid Rain," Discussion Papers dp-97-31-rev, Resources For the Future.
  7. Milliman, Scott R. & Prince, Raymond, 1989. "Firm incentives to promote technological change in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 247-265, November.
  8. Bohi, Douglas R. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1997. "SO2 allowance trading: How do expectations and experience measure up?," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 10(7), pages 67-75.
  9. Portney, Paul R, 1990. "Economics and the Clean Air Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 173-81, Fall.
  10. Parry, Ian & Pizer, William & Fischer, Carolyn, 2000. "How Important is Technological Innovation in Protecting the Environment?," Discussion Papers dp-00-15, Resources For the Future.
  11. Downing, Paul B. & White, Lawrence J., 1986. "Innovation in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 18-29, March.
  12. Chao, Hung-Po & Wilson, Robert, 1993. "Option Value of Emission Allowances," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 233-49, September.
  13. Stavins, Robert, 1998. "Market-Based Environmental Policies," Discussion Papers dp-98-26, Resources For the Future.
  14. Jung, Chulho & Krutilla, Kerry & Boyd, Roy, 1996. "Incentives for Advanced Pollution Abatement Technology at the Industry Level: An Evaluation of Policy Alternatives," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 95-111, January.
  15. Johannesson, Magnus & Johansson, Per-Olov, 1996. "To Be, or Not to Be, That Is the Question: An Empirical Study of the WTP for an Increased Life Expectancy at an Advanced Age," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 163-74, September.
  16. Stavins, Robert & Whitehead, Bradley, 1996. "The Next Generation of Market-Based Environmental Policies," Discussion Papers dp-97-10, Resources For the Future.
  17. Dallas Burtraw & Alan Krupnick & Erin Mansur & David Austin & Deirdre Farrell, 1998. "Costs And Benefits Of Reducing Air Pollutants Related To Acid Rain," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(4), pages 379-400, October.
  18. Kaslow, Thomas W. & Pindyck, Robert S., 1994. "Valuing flexibility in utility planning," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 60-65, March.
  19. Ellerman, A. Denny & Montero, Juan-Pablo, 1998. "The Declining Trend in Sulfur Dioxide Emissions: Implications for Allowance Prices," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 26-45, July.
  20. Burtraw, Dallas & Lile, Ron, 1998. "State-Level Policies and Regulatory Guidance for Compliance in the Early Years of the SO2 Emission Allowance Trading Program," Discussion Papers dp-98-35, Resources For the Future.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stefan Ambec & Alexis Garapin & Laurent Muller & Arnaud Reynaud & Carine Sebi, 2009. "Comparing regulations to protect the commons: an experimental investigation," LERNA Working Papers 09.18.294, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
  2. David Popp, 2003. "Pollution control innovations and the Clean Air Act of 1990," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 641-660.
  3. Ambec, S. & Lanoie, P., 2007. "When and why does it pay to be green ?," Working Papers 200704, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  4. Paul Lanoie & Jérémy Laurent-Lucchetti & Nick Johnstone & Stefan Ambec, 2007. "Environmental Policy, Innovation and Performance : New Insights on the Porter Hypothesis," Cahiers de recherche 07-06, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  5. Paul Lanoie & Stefan Ambec, 2009. "Performance environnementale et économique de l’entreprise," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 190(4), pages 71-94.
  6. MacGill, Iain & Outhred, Hugh & Nolles, Karel, 2006. "Some design lessons from market-based greenhouse gas regulation in the restructured Australian electricity industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 11-25, January.
  7. Burtraw, Dallas, 2007. "State Efforts to Cap the Commons: Regulating Sources or Consumers?," Discussion Papers dp-07-49, Resources For the Future.
  8. Elbakidze, Levan & McCarl, Bruce A., 2007. "Sequestration offsets versus direct emission reductions: Consideration of environmental co-effects," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 564-571, January.
  9. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Krupnick, Alan & Evans, David & Toth, Russell, 2005. "Economics of Pollution Trading for SO2 and NOx," Discussion Papers dp-05-05, Resources For the Future.
  10. Berry, David, 2002. "The market for tradable renewable energy credits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 369-379, September.
  11. Grover, David, 2013. "The ‘advancedness’ of knowledge in pollution-saving technological change with a qualitative application to SO2 cap and trade," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 123-134.
  12. Carine Sebi & Laurent Muller & Alexis Garapin & Stefan Ambec, 2009. "Règlementation acceptable d’une ressource commune : une analyse expérimentale," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 190(4), pages 107-122.

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